Friday, October 29, 2010

He (or She) Is Just Not That Into You: The Book, The Movie and Real Life

This is a book and movie review combined into one. But since it is one of the most honest and refreshing non-fiction books ever, it should be on this post.  Now, the original title is He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys, but since the advice in the book are better applied to both sexes, I needed to add “she” to the mix.

The Book

The book title is the somewhat amusing and harsh title “He is just not that into you”. It was written by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Now, I had first thought it was one of those stupid self-help books that are full of bullshit- stuff that tells you the obvious. Well, but this one is about the obvious facts, it is about the obvious stuff we just have hard time accepting when we genuinely like someone. It sucks to come to terms with the fact that our feelings are not reciprocated, that the object of our affection/love/lust/crush/whatever doesn’t feel the same way.

I have to say I am not as naive as Gigi (played wonderfully by Ginnifer Goodwin) was in the beginning of the movie (I will be talking about the film soon), I never thought that a guy was being an asshole to me because he liked me. If someone is mean to you, it is because they don’t like you. It is one in a million that a person will act like that only because they are intimidated by how they feel about you. And even then, it is probably not going to work out because they will be inclined to act like a bitch/jerk every time they feel frustrated. So it is never a good sign. So if they are acting like they don’t like you – men or women- well, it is because they don’t.

Real Life

But it is much more complicated when they are not simply mean, isn’t it? Maybe they are nice and even friendly. Maybe they are sending out mixed signals. One action is telling you to run a mile from them and another is indicating that they are obviously interested in you. Then you are tempted to wait by the phone (or stay glued to your cell/facebook/messenger- whatever your poison) and your friends are also thrown in the game to analyze this person of your interest.

 Now guys mostly like to act like they are above the analyzing and waiting for the call/message rituals but trust me half my good friends are men (gay and straight, both) and when they truly like someone, they do feel the need to analyze the actions and the messages. You do have the tendency to lose your confidence. If you are not the least bit self-conscious, it is probably because you are just not that into the person. Did you watch Gerard Butler’s The Ugly Truth? Ignore the film’s romantic clich├ęs and pay attention to how his character’s actions and expectations change when he really falls for the girl…

Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth

Now, notice how I am talking men and women at the same time? Although the book is targeted to women, the basics of the relationships/dating/flirting triangle are pretty much the same. There are some vital and very obvious signs that tell you whether that the other person likes you or not. Now, the book is full of little pages of facts about the situations we get into. Every page ends up with “He is just not that into you”. But make the “he”s she, and the “she”s he and you will see that the book works very well for both sexes.

The movie is inspired by these facts but they throw in the perspectives of both sides- and how the book has correctly made the assumptions. The authors have worked on Sex and The City episodes. Now, this movie might be as categorized as a romantic comedy but trust me it is not a typical one. And the book proved right with every guy I ever had, every guy I wanted but couldn’t have, as well as the ones who wanted me.

Before I go into the characters and the plot of the movie, let me talk about some basic advice of the book. Guys if you are reading, feel free to adapt the lines.

*If he is playing games and making you guess (playing the hot/cold routine with you or if he is just acting like a jerk), he is just not that into you.

*If he says he is not the marrying type, it just means he doesn’t want to marry you.

*If he is cheating, he is just not that into you.

*If a guy likes you, he will ask you out. The complications don’t matter. If he likes you, he will make it happen. If it’s not happening, he is…. Yeah, you can fill in the blanks and you do get the idea.

Of course the book uses a much more entertaining (or painful- depends on your condition) language than my paraphrased and summarized version.

The Movie starring Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Ginnifer Goodwin, Justin Long and Drew Barrymore

He’s Just Not That Into You was released in 2009, directed by Ken Kwapis. Written by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, based on the book of the same title.

Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) has grown up believing in the all the wrong myths about men. She has gotten used to the drama and making up excuses whenever a guy doesn’t show up or call as he promises. She has a what she thinks to be a promising date with real estate agent Conor (Kevin Connolly). But Connor is barely interested in Gigi. He has always had a major crush on his bed buddy Anna (Scarlett Johansson). But to Anna, Conor is merely a safe bet to hang out and have sex with whenever she feels like it. She is much more excited by Ben (Bradley Cooper), a guy she meets at the supermarket. OK, so he is married to Janine (Jennifer Connelly), his college sweetheart. But Anna feels like he could be the one for her and that his marriage is a mistake. Ben embarks a dangerously tempting platonic friendship with Anna. She is just the opposite of his wife. Anna is a feisty, sexy and curvy blonde who is full of life whereas Janine loves her rules and seems more interesting in restoring the house they bought more than anything.

Beth (Jennifer Aniston) has been with the loving, considerate and loyal Neil (Ben Affleck) for 7 years. Their relationship is just perfect, except for Neil’s one big flaw: he is never intending to marry Beth- and Beth seems to be or at least pretends to be okay with this.

Mary (Drew Barrymore) takes care of Conor’s advertising business though they have never met in person. She is also Anna’s best friend. She of course knows about Anna’s major crush for Ben and being the good friend, she encourages her to pursue him after all, just because he is married, it doesn’t mean that his wife is the love of his wife. Does it?

The  teachings of the book are implied through the very beginning of the movie where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and cultures feed each other the same stories and excuses that Gigi has grown up over. Excuses are made for guys’ actions whereas the explanation is plain and simple: it is in the movie’s title. It takes a chance encounter with Connor’s best friend Alex (Justin Long) for Gigi to face the reality. Alex notices that Gigi is a nice, pretty yet a disillusioned girl so he decides to enlighten her about how guys really think. Now that Gigi has wised up, she shares her wisdom with her work mates Beth and Janine. Everything gets more complicated as women reexamine their relationships. Gigi also befriends Alex- who becomes her guide to understanding men.

The movie is funny and it has characters from all stages of all sorts of relationships: Marriages, dating, flirting, long relationships- from the perspective of both men and women. The observations are pretty accurate since the writers consist of a man and a woman. Just relax and enjoy. It is not all sweet and happy endings for everyone. You just have to watch and see what happens for each one of the characters.

The cast is very good and the script is funny. It is not life-altering of course but it gives some really good pointers that we should keep in mind when it comes to sex and romance.

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